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Treating Candidas: Nutritional Approaches to a Common Problem

Candida albicans. Source. A fungal pathogen, living mainly in people’s gastrointestinal tract.

There are multiple factors that may trigger the form changes and proliferation of Candida that result in candidiadis. This condition develops when the balance between yeast and bacteria is upset as a result of:

  • ·         Immune dysfunction
  • ·         Disruption in ratio of good to bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract
  • ·         Upset in intestinal pH

 

Immune dysfunction is caused by a number of factors:
ingestion of certain drugs, like anti-inflamatories, cortisone, birth control
pills, chemotherapy and antibiotics; exposure to toxic metals such as mercury,
lead, cadmium, nickel and aluminum and other environmental toxins; generation of
internal toxins as a result of poor digestion and focal infection (a walled off
area of concentrated toxins and dead and/or infected tissue, often in the
mouth); stress and over-consumption of refined carbohydrates. All of these
factors create an imbalance of gut flora (with the bad bacteria outnumbering the
good) called dysbiosis, which can result in reduced immunity.

 

Yeast-connected illness affects people of all ages, and although both sexes are affected, women are eight times more likely to experience the yeast syndrome. Women may develop vaginal infections following a course of antibiotics, during pregnancy or while using oral contraceptives. Progesterone from birth control pills changes the vaginal lining to make it more hospitable to yeasts and also causes the release of yeast-feeding sugar into the bloodstream. Candida may be transmitted sexually, and a mother may pass it on to her newborn. Candidiasis in the form of oral “thrush” and/or diaper rash is common in babies.

Factors that might predispose one to candidiasis include:

  • ·         Use of antibiotics
  • ·         Use of corticosteroid drugs (which suppress the immune system and permit the overgrowth of yeast)
  • ·         A compromised immune system (evident in people with AIDS, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, as well as those taking immunosuppressive drugs and people with a heavy body burden of toxins)
  • ·         A damp, moldy environment
  • ·         A diet high in refined carbohydrates and other yeast-promoting foods
  • ·         Presence of mercury-containing “silver” amalgam fillings in the teeth
  • ·         Stress (which suppresses immune function)
  • ·         Decreased digestive secretions
  • ·         Nutrient deficiency
  • ·         Impaired liver function
  • ·         Altered bowel flora (bacteria)

Candidiasis can affect many parts of the body and may be characterized by a wide variety of local and systematic signs and symptoms including:

  • ·         Chronic fatigue
  • ·         Food cravings
    (especially for sweets, fermented foods, alcohol and carbonated beverages)
  • ·         Hyperactivity and learning disabilities in children
  • ·         Lack of libido
  • ·         Food and environmental sensitivities or allergies (adverse reaction to such items as perfume, dust, cut grass, tobacco smoke, chemicals, molds, pollen, etc.)
  • ·         Suppressed immune activity; autoimmune disorders
  • ·         Headaches
  • ·         Muscle aches
  • ·         Arthritis
  • ·         Change in bowel habits (or alternating diarrhea and constipation)
  • ·         Vaginitis
  • ·         Bladder and kidney infections
  • ·         Sunlight sensitivity
  • ·         Gas and bloating
  • ·         Abdominal pain
  • ·         Bad breath
  • ·         Rectal itching
  • ·         Impotence
  • ·         Prostatitis
  • ·         Sore throat
  • ·         Clogged sinuses/sinusitis
  • ·         Persistent heartburn
  • ·         Acne
  • ·         Night sweats
  • ·         Numbness in face or extremities
  • ·         PMS
  • ·         Burning tongue
  • ·         White spots in tongue and mouth
  • ·         Nail infections
  • ·         Diaper rash
  • ·         Skin infection in groin, neck fold (in infants), under breasts (in heavy women) and under armpits
  • ·         Depression, irritability, poor concentration, brain fog

Traditional medicine employs fungicides (like Nystatin, Diflucan and Nizoral) to treat severe yeast infections. Fungistatic drugs that inhibit the growth of fungi, preventing it from getting worse, may also be employed. While these may effectively suppress fungal growth, it may resume once medication is discontinued unless the primary problem is handled and dybiosis corrected.

While many doctors of “complementary” medicine will rely upon herbal and nutritional remedies solely, some may opt to do a short course of drug (anti-fungal) therapy first in an effort to shorten treatment time. Diflucan, Sporanox, and Nizarol are all absorbed in the upper GI tract and taken into circulation, so therapeutic doses do not reach the colon. Nystatin can be used in conjunction with the systemic drugs for a short period of time to help ensure elimination of Candida, but please understand that handling Candida is more than just taking a pill. It is a holistic approach, a consisting of diet, supplementation, lifestyle modification, mental and emotional support.

Nutritional Approaches

The diet below should be followed to at least one month. Many people suffer from hidden food sensitivities and are often addicted to the food they are eating. When they begin to eliminate these foods from their diet, they can experience “withdrawal” symptoms. This can also cause one to feel angry due to a craving for foods that have been removed from the diet. This too shall pass! Try to start diet modifications at a time when you are able to take it easy and rest during the first few days. The first step is to remove certain foods from your diet.

 

  • ·         Clean out your kitchen, and get rid of sugar, corn syrup, white bread, and white flour products, as well as all the boxed sugar-laden cereals, crackers, and sodas (even diet soda).
  • ·         Eliminate fruit and fruit juices from your diet. Fresh green juices are excellent.
  • ·         Eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners. Have no sugar, honey, molasses or maple syrup during the first month.
  • ·         Eliminate cheese and commercial dairy products.
  • ·         Eliminate mushrooms, breads made with yeast, baked goods, (most packaged/processed foods in general) and peanuts. Find yeast-free breads in the health food store.
  • ·         Avoid caffeine-containing and alcoholic beverages.
  • ·         Eliminate vinegar (except raw apple cider vinegar from the health food store); also avoid vinegar containing foods like mayonnaise, salad dressings, and soy sauce.
  • ·         Avoid processed and smoked meats.

During the first month, you may eat:

  • Plenty of vegetables, especially low carbohydrate – You may eat them raw,
    cooked, or frozen. Organic is best. The vegetables to eat
    sparingly (1/2 cup serving) during this time include beans and potatoes (regular and sweet).
  • ·         Meat (organic is best), seafood, eggs and tofu. – Select chicken, lamb, turkey and lean cuts of beef, cod, salmon, mackerel, sardines, shrimp, lobster, tuna, and wild game.
  • ·         Nuts , seeds, cashews, almonds, filberts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds. – These need to be soaked overnight in distilled or purified water to ensure better digestions.
  • ·         Grains such as rice, spelt, teff, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, kamut, quinoa, and oats – These need to be soaked overnight to ensure better digestion.
  • ·         Snacks may include raw pumpkin seeds, oil-free corn chips and nuts. Raw almond and cashew butter are excellent. Granny Smith apples are permitted.
  • ·         Oils (cold-pressed) – corn, olive, safflower and walnut; butter in moderation.
  • ·         Plain organic yogurt, if you can tolerate it.
  • ·         Drink plenty of water, caffeine-free herbal teas; use sweeteners like lohan and stevia.
  • ·         Use fresh squeezed lemon juice to replace vinegar.

After the first month, begin to add fruit, but limit yourself to one fruit at a time, and see how you feel that day. Sugar and sugar-containing foods should be kept out of your diet indefinitely.

[Brenda Watson, C.N.C., is a New York Times bestselling author, PBS health educator and digestive care expert, and is considered one of the foremost authorities today on natural digestive health and the gut connection to total-body health.]